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The Glamorous Life


Sheila E.

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Prince wrote this song at a time when he was extremely prolific, recording numerous songs for himself and for others. His side projects included the groups Apollonia 6 and The Time, both of which featured in his movie Purple Rain. "The Glamorous Life" was intended for the 1984 album Apollonia 6, but Prince redistributed it (along with "Manic Monday," which went to The Bangles), as he lost interest in Apollonia 6.

The group was originally Vanity 6, fronted by the Prince protégé Vanity (Denise Matthews). When she pulled out of the Purple Rain film, Prince replaced her with Patricia Kotero, whom he dubbed "Apollonia" and made the new face of the group. According to Prince's biographer Per Nilsen, he wrote this song about Apollonia, who told Nilsen: "He used to make all these stupid jokes, 'You're the kind of chick who would wear a mink coat in the summertime.' To this day I don't have my own mink coat! When Sheila came into the scene, Prince took away the song from us and gave it to her."
This was the first single for Sheila E., who before meeting Prince in 1978 performed as a percussionist alongside her father, the Latin music star Pete Escovedo. She backed Lionel Richie, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye on tour, but it was Prince who convinced her to sing and also become a solo artist. He gave her a new look, produced and wrote most of the songs on her first album, and brought her along as the opening act on his Purple Rain tour (in addition to her musical talent and good looks, another selling point was Sheila's stature - she's very petite which made the diminutive Prince look taller in comparison). Sheila E. didn't seek out the glamorous life, but she lived it for a while when she rolled with Prince. Her act also got very sexual, and on some Purple Rain tour performances she would bring a guy on stage, sit him in a chair and simulate fellatio.
Mary Lambert, who did most of Madonna's early videos, directed this one - the mix of color with black and white footage is something she also did on "Borderline." As she tells it in the book I Want My MTV, some strange stuff went down. Prince's two stylists were employed to dress Sheila, and they gave her an outfit that was so small they couldn't zip it up. Also, the love interest was cast as a black guy, but Lambert was told by Prince's people to replace him with a white guy so Sheila would have more crossover appeal.
Sheila E.
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